Lodahl's blog: I was just listening to a comedy show

08 June 2007

I was just listening to a comedy show

Well, actually it was an interview by a jounalist from Computerworld, Kurt Westh Nielsen. Be carefull, this is a one hour long mp3 file (45 Mb). He was supposed to make an interview with Stephen McGibbon from Microsoft, but it sounds more like a monolog. Stephen is talking without any interuption from the journalist, and when Stephen is out of words, Kurt will help him going again.

It all explodes when Kurt asks Stephen why the ODF support from Microsoft has to come from plugins developed by someone else. Why don't Microsoft incorporate native support for ODF ? Kurt said:"I am a Microsoft Office user. As a user, I don't understand why I can't open a document from OpenOffice.org". The answer from Stephen is a very long description of how to download and install the plug-in from SourceForge.

Kurt repeats: "I, as a normal user don't understand why the support don't come from the Office application. Why do I have to do all this installation stuff ?". Stephen answers:"Ohh, native support ? Our customers don't require native suppoert. We supply our customers with what they require, but they didn't ask for native support for ODF !".

Kurt asks the same question about five or six times.

Hey Stephen, wake up !

The guy is sitting no more than a microphone away from you, and he's asking for ODF support. And you are telling him, that you customers are not asking for ODF support ?

This is making a fool out of him.

And what is the Danish Parliament saying ? Asking for native ODF support ?

To me it sounds like a request from one of your customers mr. McGibbon.

But you are making a fool of your customers, just as you used to do, in the commercial where you made a grin out of customers by dressing them up as dinosaurs.

Stephen, I think you are underestimating your customers.


Rob Weir said...

Customers have never asked for this feature? Ha! Over a year ago the Commonwealth of Massachusetts put out a formal "Request for Information pertaining to the existence or development of a plug-In or converter to allow Microsoft Office to read/write ODF files". Among the specific questions they asked were several about plans for native integration of an PDF plugin into Office: "Whether this exchange can be performed directly through the “File Open,” “File New,” and “File Save/Save As” menu options in Microsoft Office or their Microsoft Office 2007 equivalents, or whether a different translation mechanism would be required" and "Whether the plug-in can allow Microsoft Office to save to ODF as the default
format" and "How difficult would it be to install and use an ODF plug-in or converter?"

You can see Microsoft's reply to these RFI questions here. So they can't say that they never were asked the question, since we have plain evidence that they did and responded, in their fashion.

Leif Lodahl said...

Couldn't agree more with you Rob. But you must try to see this from the M$ point of view: "What will the customers say, if M$ for once listened ? The customers would then expect M$ to listen to customers in the future too".

Would you believe that ?

No !

Microsoft will stay as arrogant as ever.

Anonymous said...

Hi Leif - thanks for taking the time to listen to the recording. I hadn't expected the recording to be posted, I thought it was being used for notetaking, so I wasn't really aiming at brevity :-)

Anyway with your permission allow me to respond to some of your, and IBM's points.

Background. This conversation arose because I was unhappy with some of the totally untrue statements that Simon Phipps made in an interview with Kurt. I tried to respond on Simon's blog but was told he didn't have the time or inclination to discuss.

Kurt was willing to hear what I had to say. I think that's a sign of a good journalist don't you?

I explained why Microsoft had chosen to support an open source project to implement ODF support for Office.

I also explained that our customers understood why we made that decision and supported it.

If you look at Rob's response you'll see it's consistent with this. Rob points to the fact that Massachusetts made a "Request for Information pertaining to the existence or development of a plug-In or converter to allow Microsoft Office to read/write ODF files".

I haven't heard the Danish parliament ask for native ODF support. Perhaps you could point me to that request Leif. As I explain in the interview - it's a hard thing to deliver - because ISO 26300 is missing some major pieces and so we'd have to implement many proprietary extensions which by definition would hinder ODF interoperability.

Leif, forgive me, but I am sure that if Microsoft did that you'd be full of righteous indignation about the outrageous behaviour of this huge monopoly etc.

I don't think I am either underestimatng my customers or making fools out of them.

As you'll have heard, I see no problem with a dual formats policy. Much as Simon didn't until he got the call to tell him to backtrack.

As I said in the interview several times, I am not against ODF, and Micrsoft hasn't done anything to undermine or impede its progress.

You should examine whether you can say the same of OpenXML. Its interesting because there are many OpenOffice.org supporters who are excited about OpenXML and frustrated by this phoney war.

Last comment. You mention "M$" (<- clever by the way!) doesn't listen to its customers. Perhaps you should ask one or two of them - you might be suprised by the answer!

Best wishes - Stephen

Leif Lodahl said...

Hi Stephen,
Tank you for the comments.

Best wishes for you too.


Anonymous said...

There is a couple of things that I would like to see Microsoft guys explaining better (maybe Stephen can do that here :) ):

1 - "...because ISO 26300 is missing some major pieces and so we'd have to implement many proprietary extensions which by definition would hinder ODF interoperability..." Can you guys technically describe those major pieces ? If they really exists, what about joining the OASIS TC and implementing those there (the doors are still open...)?

2 - What exactly "legacy compatibility" means ? This is being used to explain why OpenXML does not overlaps with ODF, but I really cannot found technical evidences about that (and yes, I know very well both standards)...